John Crace's digested read: False Impression by Jeffrey Archer

Macmillan, £17.99

9/10 - Lady Victoria Wentworth never heard the young woman break into her stately home. Minutes later she lay dead with her throat slit and her ear removed.

9/11 - Today Fenston would get his hands on the Van Gogh. Few suspected that behind his facade as a respected banker lay one of Ceausescu's most loyal cronies who had amassed a fabulous horde of impressionist art by getting rich collectors to borrow money at ridiculous rates of interest and then killing them.

Anna Petrescu, the world's most fragrant expert on impressionist paintings, entered the North Tower and took the elevator for her meeting with her boss.

"The Wentworth Van Gogh should be sold to Nakamura," she said. "That way, she can pay her debts and keep her home."

"You're fired," Fenston yelled and left. Anna went to her office and the walls exploded around her. She was the last person to leave the tower alive.

"Hmm," she thought. "Everyone will assume I'm dead. Maybe I can use that to my advantage and save the Wentworth Van Gogh."

9/12 - Anna ran the last six miles to the Canadian border and flew to London.

"Aha," said Fenston. "She's gone to London via Canada." He picked up the phone and called Krantz, his personal 4ft 11in female Romanian assassin.

Jack observed Anna and Fenston from afar. "Maybe if I repeat the fact that Anna has gone to London via Canada it will make it seem less ridiculous," he told his CIA minder.

9/13 - Anna arrived in London, hijacked the Van Gogh, had a secret meeting with Victoria's sister, Lady Arabella and left for Bucharest with a parcel.

"She's leaving for Bucharest," said Krantz, getting on the same plane.

"She's leaving for Bucharest," said Jack, getting on the same plane.

9/14 - Anna met with her old art teacher and asked him a special favour. "Because of all the charitable works you have done, I cannot refuse," he said.

"She's leaving for Tokyo," said Krantz, getting on the same plane.

"She's leaving for Tokyo," said Jack, getting on the same plane.

9/15 - "You are a remarkable woman, Miss Petrescu," bowed Nakamura. "I will do as you say".

Krantz hung on to the bumper of Nakamura's car for 40 miles before holding up the driver. She ripped open the parcel. It was the wrong painting.

"She's going back to Bucharest," said Krantz, getting on the same plane.

"She's going back to Bucharest," said Jack, getting on the same plane.

9/16 - Anna had another secret meeting with her art teacher before leaving for London. The taxi driver shot Krantz in the shoulder. "That's for all those who died under Ceausescu," he muttered.

9/18 - Fenston unwrapped the Van Gogh. "It's a fake," sneered the insurers.

9/19 - Jack phoned his minder. "Krantz escaped from 17 guards at the hospital."

9/20 - Arabella, Anna and Nakamura celebrated the sale of the Van Gogh. "Not so fast," laughed Krantz. Arabella, who had a touch of Margaret Thatcher's steel, blasted her with a shotgun.

Jack rushed in. "I've just realised that Fenston is wearing one of Victoria's earrings, so everything's sorted." He gazed into Anna's millpond eyes. "Come back to Grantchester with me."

The digested read, digested: Crook tries to make money out of 9/11. Just like his characters


John Crace

The GuardianTramp

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